St. Antoninus

by Jule Spohn


St. Antoninus was my Parish. It is located on South Orange Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets. When I lived there 1941-1960 the Dominicans ran the Parish and the Sisters Of Charity taught in the grammar school.

This was a very large Parish. Here is how our Sunday Mass schedule was: 7am, 8am, 9am, and 9:15 in the lower church, 10am High Mass with choir, 11am, 12noon, and 12:15 in the lower church. Almost every Mass was crowded.

On Monday night we had a Novena and on Thursday night we had Holy Hour. The Dominicans were founded by Saint Dominic and are called the Order of Preachers - OP - and boy could they deliver some wonderful sermons. I miss them and their preaching style very much.

My mother was very religious and every day of my live, till I left for the Marine Corps, I went to the 7am Mass with her. On Saturday she filled the candles around the altars and when I was in high school she worked at the new convent making lunch for the nuns.

I still get very nostalgic whenever I go back to St. Antoninus even though the area and the members of the Parish have changed considerably since my childhood.

For most of my childhood there was a lady named Agnes who would always be at the top of the steps every day after Mass or whatever service with a little "collection" box in her hand collecting money for some poor sole or society. Many times she would hand you a religious card or medal or something in return for your donation. Rumor had it that at one time she had a lot of money and gave it all away and devoted her live to helping the poor. I have often wondered whatever happened to her after I went into the Marine Corps in 1960. She was very lively and bounced up and down holding her little collection box in her outstretched arms saying - please help the poor.

Around the corner from St. Antoninus on 13th Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets is the Monastery of Saint Dominic which is a cloister where the nuns live in silence and prayer and never come outside. It is truly an island of Peace surrounded by a sea of turmoil - especially today. There is a beautiful little chapel there and I used to have to get up early to serve the 7am Mass there every once in a while. If anyone is interested the nuns still make beautiful, hand painted, Mass cards.

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In the above memory I mentioned a woman named Agnes who used to stand at the top of the stairs after every Mass and service with a little collection box in her hand collecting money "for the poor." I never knew who she was or what ever happened to her after I left for the Marines in 1960.

I received an e-mail which Glenn had forwarded to me from a fellow named Vincent Kenny who knew Agnes. He says that her name was Agnes Burns and she and her two sisters Tess and Bess lived in his parents house at 190 South 10th Street which is between 11th and 12th Avenues. He says that Agnes and Bess did a lot of charitable work for St. Antoninus as well as for the Monastery. They were very devout and dedicated. This is great information regarding a woman who did so much good in her life in helping others. Thanks Vincent.


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